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Interest in home wave simulators has increased enormously in recent years. As someone who has recently built a home simulator, I can tell you that it is incredibly fun to play a course in the comfort of your own home (and do great exercises). Optishot 2 is perhaps the most popular product there is, because it offers golfers an inexpensive way to get started with a home simulation system. With only $ 299 it is still the best bargain on the market.
Recently I finally got the chance to try out Optishot 2. In this review I will investigate why buying this product can be an excellent idea for some golfers and possibly a frustrating experience for others. I will also compare it with the other popular offer, SkyTrak, which I now have for about a year.
It is a good value
At $ 299 it is difficult to argue that Optishot 2 is not an excellent bargain for golfers. You get access to a fully simulated practice range experience and 15 golf courses that you can play. While you can go ahead and build a much more expensive set-up with a projector, impact screen and high-end mat that increase costs – there's not too much else you need to get up and go than a compatible one. Mac or Windows computer.
On top of that you can use plastic golf balls or real golf balls (or nothing at all). This gives golfers much more flexibility for different applications around their home. I have seen exhibits in the living rooms of people who need nothing more than a mat and a hanging cloth to prevent the plastic ball from flying through the house.
For a golfer with a limited budget, I do not believe there is another package available that offers a wide range of functions for so little money. One thing I would recommend after using it is to buy mat with a recess for the sensor. If you do not, you stand on a very uneven surface to hit shots.
Overall, I believe that the Optishot 2 simulator is more of an entertainment experience for golfers. I will explain why that is when I dive a bit deeper into my experience, but I would not confuse this product with a more serious exercise tool. It is important to make that distinction, because your expectations of the product are your experience with it (good or bad).
Is it accurate? Well … Kinda
Optishot 2 has been on the market for a while, so most golfers are very familiar with the features. You get a nice user experience with decent 3D graphics. Five years ago it might have been a bit more polished, but in 2018 I would say the images seem a bit outdated. But they are still fully functional.
Here is an example of the images on the practice range
The question I get most often from golfers who have read my manual for home simulators is how accurate Optishot 2 is.
My main goal in testing was to determine how realistic the sensors are in estimating your recordings. For the sake of clarity, Optishot does not directly measure your golf ball as SkyTrak does with a high-speed camera. The infrared sensors only measure the club itself when it moves over the mat. From there, it estimates what your ball flight would be.
For those who are unfamiliar with this site (or my research) – I have hit thousands of golf balls on every major launch monitor there is. I have a good idea of what my figures are for my ball flight and club details, so that I can quickly see whether a product is correct, or even in the field.
When I first made photo 's with my wedges on Optishot 2, I was impressed. I mainly saw carrying distances that I was used to, and I had my SkyTrak connected at the same time to help verify the numbers. Within 110 meters I found them both very close together (and what I would see on the golf course).
However, things started to change course as soon as I took longer photos. A typical 8-iron for me flies about 155 meters. Optishot measures distances between 140 yards all the way to 170. As my irons got longer, the differences became bigger and bigger.
I also had enormous difficulties in measuring every shot that was not good, especially my rider.
On the whole, I would say that Optishot gives you a "ballpark" simulation of your ball flight. As your swing speed and distances increase, you can expect the accuracy to decrease.
The Club details are not very accurate
Optishot 2 gives you the path of your club and angle of view at impact. This part was a bit funny for me because I have an extreme in-to-out clubpad. It is almost impossible for me to let the golf ball fade unless I hit the heel of my driver. I am somewhere between 5 – 12 degrees measured, which is considered extreme (but I have found a way to make it work for me).
Optishot told me that I had a path of distribution that produced a blur. I can say with certainty that this is physically impossible to swing normally. Based on what I saw, I would not tell anyone to take any meaningful data on the path of your club or simulated ball flight. That is why I regard Optishot more as an entertainment product than as a training tool.
This is not entirely surprising, since the product costs only a few hundred dollars. If you want to receive meaningful data about your swing that you can trust, you should spend thousands of dollars on launchers from Trackman or Foresight Sports.
Cutting to the Chase
There are two ways to view Optishot 2. For golfers who are not that serious and just want to have fun, it can be a great user experience. For the price, it is a great entry-level product to have fun in your home.
However, for golfers who are more serious and demand accuracy, I think they will find the experience rather frustrating. There were too many photos for me that I knew did not go along with the distance and the shot form that was simulated. But for $ 300, what can you expect realistic? That kind of technology is expensive to manufacture and golfers should take it into account.
Optishot 2 vs. SkyTrak
I have owned the SkyTrak launch monitor for a year now. You can view my full review here and I've used it as a data source for many articles on the site.
At $ 2000, SkyTrak is a significantly larger investment than Optishot 2, so it's not really a comparison between apples and apples.
But I will tell you that SkyTrak is a HUGE upgrade in accuracy. There are more running costs with SkyTrak to consider too. Their annual subscription ranges from $ 99 – $ 199, and there are also several simulation integrations with leading providers that can cost hundreds of dollars.
If you try to choose between two of these, then this is what I would like to tell you. SkyTrak is for a golfer who wants a better overall simulation experience and superior accuracy. It is a more serious exercise tool and better in simulating your ball flight. SkyTrak is not perfect, but you can expect very reliable statistics with an occasional error.
You would also have to invest several thousand dollars for your setup, because you hit real golf balls (think of practice, getting hit, etc.). My SkyTrak setup costs almost $ 4,000, which is much higher than an Optishot 2 system.
So if you have the budget, SkyTrak offers a significant upgrade of performance. If you do not want to invest that much, or if you're not that serious about the whole endeavor, Optishot 2 can also be completely good.
For the money it is difficult to argue against Optishot 2 and its value proposition. For a few hundred dollars you get a fully functional home wave simulator system. Golfers with a limited budget and people who want to have some fun can get their money and then some.
Golfers should be aware that the accuracy is limited. If you are looking for a more serious practice tool with reliable statistics, this may be too short for you. You can buy Optishot 2 here for $ 299.
If you want to read more articles about this subject, please view the following articles:
Guide to home wave simulators
Guide to hitting on mats
Guide to practice nets
How I practice with SkyTrak